Does the coronavirus have a disproportionate impact on people of color?

  • Black people and Latinos are getting infected by COVID-19 at higher rates
  • People of color are dying at disproportionate rates 
  • Experts believe it could be due to health disparities 

Across the country, Black people and Latinos are more at risk of getting infected with and dying from the coronavirus. 

In New York City, the epicenter of COVID-19 in the U.S., Black people have died at more than twice the rate of their white neighbors. Black New Yorkers are also almost 2.5 times more likely to be infected with the coronavirus. However, this trend is not just occurring in New York City. It’s taking place in cities and states throughout the country. 

For example in Wisconsin, 6% of the population is Black, but they make up about 40% of the coronavirus deaths in the state. In Arizona, a little more than 10% of the population is Latino, but Latino and Hispanics make up 32% of the coronavirus deaths. 

Experts point to several possible reasons behind the trend. Some suggest that because Latinos and Black people are working many of the “essential jobs” in the country, they are more at risk to contract the virus. In addition, experts say that inequality in the healthcare system and health disparities, like access to clean water, could all impact the outcome. 

“This virus is holding up a mirror to our society and reminding us of deep inequities in our country,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement on April 9. “From basic lack of access to health care, transportation, and protections in the workplace, these inequities hit people of color and vulnerable communities the hardest.”

In early April, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams acknowledged that Black Americans are at higher risk for COVID-19. He said, via the Washington Post, “I’ve shared myself personally that I have high blood pressure, that I have heart disease and spent a week in the [intensive care unit] due to a heart condition, that I actually have asthma and I’m prediabetic, and so I represent that legacy of growing up poor and Black in America.”

Sources: New York City Government, New York Times, Mother Jones, Vox, Washington Post

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